July 21, 2008

The Tale of the Bills: O'Reilly & Joel

Seeing this Times article about the Long Island roots of Billy Joel reminded me of another Bill from Long Island, Bill O'Reilly.

I read the selections below to my wife without telling her it was about Billy Joel and asked her who it reminded her of. She immediately said, "Bill O'Reilly":
The romantic idealism and the yeah-right realism. The quickness to mock and to take offense. The need to prove oneself better than any Upper East Side twit...the worst that they can say is: He forgot where he came from. He’s full of it. A fake...

He comes from Long Island — and really, the thought goes, what hard-knocks artistry could possibly emerge from the land of suburban tracts?...

We Long Islanders have an inherent inferiority complex...we use ridicule and sarcasm to show affection.

“Everything was testing, testing, testing,” he says. “Testing your manhood, testing your humor — really, testing your friendship.”

Now a bad review doesn’t ruin his life. “I think that was a Long Island thing,” he says. “Someone would take a swipe, and I felt compelled to swing back.”
You can take the boy out of Long Island, but you can't take the Long Island out of the boy.

With O'Reilly, being an outsider has been put to good use in his ability to identify with the underdog, particularly with the defenseless: children.

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